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Boston Bombing Survivors, Victims' Families React To Tsarnaev Death Sentence

"In his own words, 'An eye for an eye.'"

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Updated on

Boston Marathon bombing victims and government officials reacted with a collective sigh of relief Friday after Dzokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death.

Tsarnaev was sentenced to death for his role in the deaths of four people in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent firefight with police. More than 260 people at the marathon were also injured.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the entire case against Tsarnaev showed that "even the worst of the worst deserve a fair trial and due process of law."

"The jury has spoken," Ortiz said. "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will pay with his life for his crimes."

She added: "Today is not a day for celebration, it is day for reflection and healing."

Karen Brassard, who along with her husband and daughter was injured in the bombing, thanked the jury for "an unbelievably difficult thing that they've gone through."

Reaction to the death sentence was mixed among those who spoke at the news conference, with some declined to give their opinions at all.

Michael Ward, an off-duty firefighter who was among the first to treat the injured at the scene, said the death sentence was "nothing to celebrate."

"This is a matter of justice," he said, although he acknowledged: "If you ask 10 people, you'll get 10 different opinions."

Brassard also noted that there is "nothing happy about taking someone's life," but said she agreed with the outcome.

"For me, I think it was the just conclusion," she said.

Then there was bombing survivor Laurie Scher. Asked if Tsarnaev's sentence had also brought her a sense of relief, she responded: "No, it doesn't."

And as for the death penalty, Scher declined to weigh in publicly.

"I have my personal feelings about that, and I'd like to keep those to myself," she said.

Other who spoke at the news conference acknowledged that the case would likely drag on through the appeals process, but said the hearing Friday provided at least sense of closure nonetheless.

"For the first time, it feels like we can take a breath, actually breathe again…and really feel like it's behind us," Brassard said.

Most survivors and family members of the victims, some of whom testified against Tsarnaev during the trial, mainly reacted on social media.

After the verdict, Sydney Corcoran said on Twitter that she and her mother will finally be able to move on.

My mother and I think that NOW he will go away and we will be able to move on. Justice. In his own words, "an eye for an eye".

She also said that Tsarnaev "took away his own right to live."

Transit officer Richard "Dic" Donohue, who was was hit in the leg during a shoot-out with the Tsarnaev brothers, returned to work on Friday and tweeted out this statement by the MIT Police in response to the verdict.

Excellent statement by Chief DiFava @MITPolice

In the statement, the Boston chief of police said he hoped the verdict "can offer some kind of closure" to the victims and their families.

Facebook: permalink.php

Donohue said that the verdict "gives me relief and closure as well as the ability to keep moving forward."

Donohue's full statement:

"Just over two years after the events that impacted us as a community and a nation, we can finally close this chapter in our lives. The verdict, undoubtedly a difficult decision for the jury, gives me relief and closure as well as the ability to keep moving forward."

Donohue's wife also tweeted her response to the verdict.

A little old lady approached me months ago,said"He placed a bomb behind a little boy and wants justice? Oh we will give him justice alright"

Adrianne Haslet, a professional dancer who lost part of her leg in the bombing, said she was "thrilled with the verdict."

My heart is with our entire survivor community. I am thrilled with the verdict! #bostonstrong #bostonsafer

Rebekah Gregory, who lost her left leg below the knee in the attacks, said she felt "completely numb" and wanted the day to be over.

Completely numb... and waiting anxiously for the day this is really over. My heart and prayers are with my Boylston Street family. <3

The Watertown Police Department said in a statement that it respected the outcome of the jury's decision to sentence Tsarnaev to death.

Facebook: WatertownPoliceDepartment

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who had publicly supported the death penalty, said that the jury's unanimous decision on the death penalty pointed to the "significance" of the attack.

In a news conference after the verdict, Baker said he hoped the verdict would represent "some sort of closure for the people who were involved in this tragedy."

He said that his point of view on the death penalty didn't matter, and that it was the jury's call.

The fact that the jury decided unanimously for death, he said, "points to the significance of the acts."

He said he has been impressed by the resilience of the victims' families during the trial, even as the impact of the bombing will continue to linger in Boston.

"I think it will be a really long time before this episode and everything that came with it lands in my rearview mirror," he said. "I think that's true for most people."

Colonel Timothy P. Alben, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, said his department's thoughts were not with the defendant, but with "the victims of his actions."

Alben's full statement:

"On behalf of the Massachusetts State Police I want to extend our thanks and deepest respect to the the members of the jury in the Tsarnaev Case. For months, these men and women placed their lives on hold for the greater good of our community. They listened intently to the testimony, carefully evaluated the evidence and were committed to the immense responsibility of thoughtful and intensive deliberation.

Today, the jury has spoken with a verdict to enact the death penalty. As with the guilty verdict several weeks ago, the collective thoughts of this department remain not with the defendant and the path he chose that resulted in today's verdict, but for the victims of his actions, their families and this greater community."

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at

Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

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Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jason Wells at

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